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East Ascension's defender denies the baseline to LaGrange Gator Jeriah Warren (3) during the LHSAA 5A Quartetfinals match up at LaGrange High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Thursday, February 21, 2019. (Dennis Babineaux/Special to the American Press)

Despite boasting a versatile skill set on both ends of the court for the LaGrange Gators, it all starts on the defensive end for Jeriah Warren.

“Defense is definitely the strongest part of my game,” she said. “I like to make players turn the ball over which brings intensity and confidence to my offense.”

After averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks per game last season while helping the Gators to a 28-8 record and trip to the Class 5A quarterfinals, Warren is spending the summer working to round her game out.

“I am working on getting stronger to be able to finish at the rim and on my defense,” she said.

Warren, who serves as the Gator point guard despite being six feet tall, prefers to distribute the ball, picking her spots to score.

“I score at the right time or when points need to be added,” she said.

Fellow returning starters Aasia Sam, Nadailyn Carrier and Alona Gray handle the scoring duties for the Gators.

“They make it easier for me with their ability to score easily and they bring very great energy on both sides of the floor,” Warren said. “My favorite moments are when every one is having fun or when me or my teammates make a big play and we celebrate together.”

Warren hopes the Gators will have plenty of reasons to celebrate this upcoming season.

“The first goal is to go undefeated in district and win it,” she said. “The second is to make the top 28 and win the championship.”

She thinks the Gators have all the pieces in place to bring home the state title.

“Our offensive weapons are our biggest strength, having so many people that can score will be hard for teams to stop us because we have that next player that will step up and score,” Warren said.

Warren has drawn the attention of college coaches, with the University of Houston, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, Texas A&M and Wichita State making offers so far.

“It can be a bit overwhelming but I’m excited,” she said of the recruiting process.

Warren likens her game to University of Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu.

“She can rebound, dish out assists and score at the guard position.”

Gators head coach La’Keem Holmes said Warren, who maintains an A average in the classroom, puts in work on and off the court.

“She is the first one to the gym and the last to leave,” he said. “She hangs with everyone on the team, the older girls and the younger ones. When she is on the bench or watching the younger girls play, you would swear she had just made the bucket the way she celebrates. At times I have to fuss at her for being too unselfish.”

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